January 27th, 2014



For whatever reasons, we both got up at around 4:15 this morning. We had just settled down under an extra blanket, while the wind gusted outside and it was hard to see the driveway, when the phone rang.

We both figured that it was one of the university emergency messaging systems saying that school was closed -- but which one? We let the answering machine take it, and after the greeting played out, we heard, "... main campus is closed, Monday January 27th..."

Still didn't know which one -- the message was caught off and it didn't have a tag line at the end.


6:20, my first alarm went off and I came out and grabbed the Kindle. It's mine.

And now the record is:

Weather-related University closings since 1999

  • 1999, Jan. 4-5—Heavy snowfall delayed the start of spring semester.
  • 2000, Nov. 21-22—Thanksgiving recess began Tuesday because of snow.
  • 2006, Dec. 1—An ice storm downed trees and caused power outages.
  • 2007, Feb. 5—Extreme cold and snow closed many Michigan colleges.
  • 2008, Feb. 1—WMU closed due to snow.
  • 2009, Dec. 10—Blizzard conditions closed WMU.
  • 2013, Jan. 31—Snow and icy conditions closed WMU.
  • 2014, Jan. 6-7—Significant snowfall and expected severely cold temperatures prompted many Michigan colleges to close. The closure delayed the start of spring semester.
  • 2014, Jan. 27—WMU closed due to severe winter weather.

Dr. Phil

The End

In honor of the weather sweeping over half the country, a story.
                          The End
                By Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

     "Recording on."
     The red LED taunts me, but it takes a moment before I can look 
into the camera.
     "I don't know who will get this message.  Maybe no one.  But after 
all we've been through, I have to make a record."  I pause and take 
a deep breath.  It hurts.  "It's 160 degrees below zero outside..."
     A voice from under a sleeping bag asked, "Is that Celsius or 
     "Who the hell cares?" I snapped.  "Let me get through this."
     "The windows are all covered with ice and snow -- and even the 
couple of clear patches are worthless due to whiteout conditions.  
I have half a box of saltines left, Brett has one small tin of deviled 
ham.  We'll try to put off eating as long as possible.
     "The last weather data we had showed heavy bands of snow coming 
ashore near our position with no end in sight.  The winds are picking 
up.  In the last hour, the lights have flickered twice.  If the power 
goes, then that's it -- we're finished.  The security doors will unlock 
and we'll be wide open to any armed survivalist looking for shelter.  
Or hordes of the undead..."
     I paused again, shivering, and was just about to go on when the 
door burst open and Dick and Laramie barged in.
     "I'm starving!" Dick announced.
     "Close the damned door!" I shouted.  "It's fucking cold outside."
     "Dude, it's freezing in here."
     Laramie felt the radiator, then bent down.  "Doofus, you turned 
your radiator off."
     Brett's head emerged from his sleeping bag.  "Oh yeah.  It was 
banging earlier and it keep waking me up."
     I threw my Chemistry textbook in his general direction.  "Idiot."
     "I'm hungry -- wanna go for pizza?" Dick asked, his invasion plan 
now clear.
     "Is Freddie's delivering?" I asked.
     Dick shook his head.  "Two hour wait on delivery.  Penny's got 
her car dug out.  We'll just drive."
     "Are you crazy?  It's 160 degrees below zero outside!"
     "It is NOT.  It's like eight below."
     "Is that Celsius or Fahrenheit?" Brett asked.
     "It's fucking Fahrenheit, asshole," I said and threw Differential 
And Integral Calculus For Engineers at him.  "Anyway, the university's 
closed and Highway 58 is blocked.  We're in the middle of a wind chill 
advisory, man."
     "Front Street is still open," Laramie said.
     "It's -32° wind chills.  We'll die."
     "We'll have pizza," Laramie said.
     "You're from Wisconsin!" Dick accused me.  "Man up and let's head 
     Reluctantly, I agreed.  "Let me check to see if I have any money."
     "Do ATMs even work in this temperature?" Brett asked.
     "Of course they do.  They have ATMs in Alaska," Dick said.  "You 
     "Sure," he said, unfolding himself from his nylon and fiberfill 
     "You?" Dick looked expectantly at me.
     "Sure.  I'm in."  I found a five and three ones crumpled in my 
desk drawer.  Just before I got up, I turned back to my laptop.  
"Rescue party arrived.  Looks like we're not the only ones left alive.  
There's hope for civilization yet."
    "You're weird," Dick shook his head as we headed out.
    "You're the one who thinks going out at night in a storm is a 
good idea," I pointed out, closing the laptop.
    As I shut and locked the door, I could hear the radiator starting 
to bang.

Stay warm and safe.

Dr. Phil

Other Shoes Falling All Over The Place

Second Place

For once Western Michigan University closed first, as witnessed by our 4:25am wake-up call. Grand Valley State University waited until 12:02pm to decide to close at 2pm. ***

Classes Canceled

All GVSU classes will be canceled beginning at 2 p.m. Monday 1/27/14 due to weather.

Mrs. Dr. Phil checked the Library website and app, but at first it didn't display, then hours came up with their 5pm closing. Apparently the students really do check this, so there shouldn't be much in the way of distraught students coming in do late night studying only to find the libes closed.

Due to inclement weather, all University Library locations will be closing at 5pm
, Monday January 27th.

Gee, You Think?

Meanwhile, reports from Cass County are that the sheriff is ticketing anyone on the roads without a really good reason. Allegan County has told everyone to stay off the roads, as per usual. During the morning commute, US-131 between 84th Street in Grand Rapids south to M-89 Plainwell, normally about 30 minutes of driving, was reduced to a single file lane and about 40mph. Perfectly happy not to have to drive that today.

Locally, M-45 in Allendale was closed and cars were being turned around. Some of the GVSU Library crowd went back home, unable to get in. I called the Allendale PT place and cancelled my 4:30 PT appointment -- Theresa said that they'd just been called by a client who hit the M-45 turnaround and couldn't get in.

Not sure where my 52mm neutral density filters are -- I had the D100 at ISO 200 and the 28-80mm lens set to f36 @ 62mm and still could only get the shutter speed down to 1/200th of a second against the snowy backyard -- so couldn't get the streaking snow to show. Really needed 1/15th of a second...

The view from the kitchen window. And those trees were clear just the other day.
(Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Bryan just came with his John Deere and mini-Sno-Go attachment (grin). He was heavily bundles up in scarf and hat -- and covered with snow. But the window screens were too filled with snow to get a shot. Thanks, Bryan!

Chicago was clear but more bitter cold. Janesville WI has already cancelled school for tomorrow. The freeze line was heading to the Gulf states and North Carolina was going to get many inches. I'll call Mother later.

Wind chill advisory starts tonight and goes through Tuesday. That means more blowing and drifting. I'm betting we'll be closed tomorrow as well.

Dr. Phil

*** Maybe it is a competition between Western and Grand Valley. Just read a comment on Facebook that "Historically speaking GVSU is holding true to tradition. The state police ordered them to close during the blizzard of '78. The Prez had to be escorted out." Huh.

How Cold Is It?

It's Affecting Physics!



  • The Physics Colloquium lecture "Impressions From the Gauge/String Duality," set for 4 p.m. in 1110 Rood Hall, is canceled.
OK, OK, so it's just that Western is closed. Not a violation of the Laws of Physics at all.

Geesh, you guys have NO sense of humor.

Dr. Phil